Author's note: In an effort to look at spirituality and briefly examine why people believe or not, we spoke with people representing various viewpoints. This is an effort of putting a roundtable discussion on paper. This is not an attempt to sway beliefs, but rather offer a platform for open discussion on one of the most talked about issues of all time.
Some people are atheists. They believe that there are no gods.
In his book, "What is Atheism?" Douglas E. Krueger said, "The assertion that a god exists is an extraordinary claim. If there is no credible evidence for an extraordinary claim, then one should conclude the extraordinary claim is false."
Krueger believes, "The Bible is unreliable; it cannot be considered credible evidence. Reports of miracles cannot be considered credible evidence. Faith is an insufficient justification for belief in gods."
Finally, he notes in his book that atheists have a purpose in life and don't need to believe in a god to be fulfilled.
Searches for God or spirituality start at different places for many people. Famous author of the children's series, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," C.S. Lewis grew up an atheist.
He spent years reading and studying about God before he converted to Christianity.
From his book, "Surprised by Joy," Lewis described his attempts in his adulthood to study religion and discuss it openly with others.
"You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him (God) whom I so earnestly desired not to meet," Lewis said in 1929. "I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."
He tells of his passing into Christianity, "It was more like when a man, after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake."
But Payson resident Troy Ford said he has always had a strong faith in God. He said most people in churches agree on the general need for spirituality, but they just disagree on the details.
Raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ford had never really questioned God's existence.
"My faith and upbringing allowed me to be patient during difficult times. I could put my questions on a shelf and become more emotionally mature, and over time my questions were answered," he said.
Ford believes there's a reason why people search out faith.
"Most people seek a place and a perspective to life's challenges," he said. "As I encountered a challenge, I got peace that everything will be worked out. I have faith in our Father in Heaven to help me," he said.
Even during turbulent teenage years, Ford did not sway from his beliefs.
"I was never a rebel. I grew up in a rough part of north Phoenix, but because of the example of my parents and the peace in my home, I never rebelled. I knew it came from faith. I wanted what they had," he said.
He acknowledges that regardless of which religion a person follows, nearly everyone has some difficult questions that need answering.
"Unfortunately, some people have so many questions it drives a wedge between themselves and their faith," he said.
Although he didn't struggle with the belief in God, he said, "You have to have hope that God exists. If you don't have that hope there isn't much chance you'll find any relationship with Him," Ford said.
Mormons believe that God and Jesus are two separate entities who have perfect bodies; the Holy Ghost is a person of spirit.
"I believe we're all born innately spiritual," Ford said. If a person refuses to nurture that spark, Ford said, study about God, that light may go out, at least temporarily.
"It is who I am. I don't just go to church on Sunday. It's who I am because of our Father in Heaven and I follow His way. I would hope I'm not just a once-a-week Latter-day Saint," he said.
"Faith brings purpose and meaning to my life. My relationship with my wife and others is enhanced because of my relationship with God. I have joy in life because of faith," he said.
"We always are mindful of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Easter is a special day and it is not the only day we think of Him and what He did for us," Ford said. "We try to teach about Jesus everyday," he said.
John Polkinghorne, a physicist before becoming an Anglican priest, said it eloquently for many, "The trend is to look for God in dramatic discontinuities in physics or biology and if none are found, to declare religion vanquished. But God may act in subtle ways that are hidden from physical science."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning," Albert Einstein noted. "Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day."
For believers, Easter is a time to think about the sacrifice made by Jesus and to recognize that he rose from the dead. Although there are many religions with differing views on God, those represented in this story agree on one thing: whoever is in charge of the universe is powerful and awe inspiring.
Like the search for new stars in the galaxy, the search for spirituality and answers to these questions will probably continue forever.
See Searching for God and spirituality, Part 1